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CfpKss The Manufacture and Cypjw 

Uses of Cypress 

"77>e Wood Eternal" 

T The Wood Sterna!" 

By Dr. Hermann von Schrenk. 

The Manufacture and Uses of Cypress. 

The number of woods which are being manufactured into lumber, and which are offered to the 
prospective user of lumber is so very large these days that one frequently finds it difficult to deter- 
mine which one of these woods is particularly adapted for the purpose intended. Some woods are 
chiefly adapted to furniture manufacture, others to building purposes, and others whose qualities 
fit them for use where lasting power is of importance. Many of the woods on the lumber market 
have qualities more or less in common with other woods which increases the difficulty in making a 
selection. It is, therefore, of prime importance that one should to the fullest possible extent know 
the advantages and disadvantages of the various woods, so that an intelligent selection can be made. 

This is an age of specialization and special characteristics or qualities rendering one or more 
woods particularly adaptable to specific purposes make that wood more or less attractive to the pros- 
pective user. Cypress wood stands almost unique among the woods on the American lumber mar- 
ket, because of its very specific and definite qualities. It has been used for many years, and the evi- 
dences of its fitness for many purposes is overwhelmingly large as is testified to by users from all 
parts of the world. 


The American bald cypress (taxodium distichum) 

known also as red, black, yellow or white cypress, is 
a tree of very ancient geologic lineage. The cypress 

and its relatives at one 

time covered the entire 
northern temperate zone 
of Europe and North 
America extending up in- 
to Greenland and almost 
to the northern tip of the 
Asiatic continent. In those 
days when the climate was 
much warmer in those 
northern countries the 
tree occupied the hills and 
valleys. In those early 
days the cypress was one 
of the trees commonly 
found on the shores of the 
Mediterranean Sea. With 
the advent of the Ice Age 
the cypress disappeared 
from many of its former 
haunts. It, however, left 
traces in the form of wood 
now found as fossil, or 
more frequently in the 
form of cones or leaves, so 
the geologist is in a posi- 
tion to trace back and de- 
termine with considerable 
accuracy in what regions 
the tree formerly flour- 

In the United States 
the tree formerly grew 
over practically the entire 

area, going as fai south as Central Mexico. Remains 
of comparatively recent cypress forests are found in 
numerous swamps, particularly along the present 


coast line. Many of these have been discovered in 
Maryland and Virginia, where stumps 8 to 10 feet 
in diameter have been uncovered. Similar ancient cy- 
press remains are found in southern Louisiana where 

they are uncovered in 
dredging operations. 

At the present time cy- 
press, unable to meet 
modern conditions among 
which the competition of 
more modern races is un- 
doubtedly a factor, has 
been crowded from the 
hillsides into the swamps 
and is today distinctly a 
swamp tree growing along 
the Atlantic and Gulf 
- and up the Missis- 
sippi Valley. In these 
swamps it grows associat- 
ed with tupelo and other 



It is into these swamp* 
that the c> press lumber- 
man has to penetrat 

under difficulties un- 
known and frequently not 
iated by the north- 
ern millman, he gets out 
the cypres^ logs. The wa- 
ter in these swampl is fre- 
' the year 
round, although in many 
•f<e swamps dry out 
during the summer pe 
the trees are usually gir- 

riod. In logging cypre«s t 

died during the latter pait of the summer or fall in 

order that they may dry out during the winter period 



to facilitate the process of floating. After they have 
stood in this girdled condition for some months the 
trees are cut down. The cutting off of a large cypress 
tree is probably as difficult an operation as one could 
imagine, owing to the fact that the trees usually have 
a very swollen base, which necessitates cutting it 
a considerable height above the ground. After the 
trees are cut they are taken to the saw-mill either by 
being rafted down the rivers or canals or by logging 
trains. They have to be pulled usually by means of 
small donkey engines, whose cables usually go out 
from one-half to three-quarters of a mile into the 
swamp. Anyone who has ever witnessed the opera- 
tions in a swamp of a cypress lumberman, and has 
shared the privations of life in these regions realizes 
that the expense of this part of the operation must be 
very great and is consequently not surprised when the 
ultimate price is quoted to him. 

Most of the trees which are cut are very old, some 
of them reaching the age of 1,500 to 2,000 years. In 
the older cypress brakes many of the trees are hollow 

necessitating the cutting off of a considerable portion 
of the trunk. 

After the logs have been brought to the mill they 
are dumped into a pond and are carried from the pond 
into the mill in the usual manner and sawed into vari- 
ous grades of lumber. One element enters into the 
sawing of cypress logs not usually found in other woods; 
that is a very large percentage particularly of the older 
logs are affected with a peculiar disease known as 
"pecky" or "peggy" cypress. This "pecky" cypress is 
in reality very valuable but the presence of the disease 
in a large log means that sometimes half the log 
has to be manufactured into low-grade lumber or ties. 
One of the characteristics of the modern cypress mill 



is the manner in which every part ot the cypress log 
is manufactured into something. A man recently 
came to one of the cypress mills with a proposition to 
purchase the slabs for making paper, and on being 
taken out to the burner he was very much surprised 
to find that practically all of the refuse available con- 
sisted of bark and small pieces of the wood eight to 
ten inches long, which in their turn were more or less 
defective. In other words, the method of manufac- 
ture is very close and even the small pieces are being 
taken care of. The cypress manufacturer practices 
conservation in a very high degree. 

After the lumber is sawed it is dealt with in a man- 
ner characteristic to most woods, that is the higher 
grades are air dried, and then go through the planing 


mill for further manufacture. It is a characteristic of 
most cypress mills that they use great care in the sub- 
sequent handling of their lumber after it is sawed. 
In order so assure equal drying and freedom from 
checking the end crossing strip on the side of the pile 
exposed to the sun is usually made of a wide board 
which is allowed to project out beyond the end of 
the planks so as to cast a shadow on the ends of the 
planks, thereby reducing the tendency to check. Cy- 
press lumber is free from many of the ills which affect 
other woods. Aside from the pecky disease referred 
to (which is in reality not a defect for many uses) no 
disease of the wood is known. After it is once piled 
it is subject to little deterioration. 

cated within 200 miles of salt water. The lighter col- 
ored wood comes from swamps to the northward. As 
will be indicated in discussing the lasting power of 
cypress color is of significance only when taken in con- 
nection with the percentage of heart wood found in 
the tree. Common usage has applied the term red 
cypress to the tide water form because of the prepon- 
derance of its red coloration. This tide water cypress 
is usually red or darker and has a very fine even grain, 
is frequently marked by various colored zones darker 
or lighter in color than the main portion of the tree 
which often times extend for great lengths throughout 
the trunk. Cypress wood is one of the lighter woods, 
weighing approximately 50 lbs. per cubic foot when 
green, although in some cases it is as high as 60 lbs. 
per cubic foot. Its specific gravity varies from 0.35 

I I 


Cypress is a typical coniferous wood. It varies in 
color from light almost white, such as that found in 
its northern region in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mis- 
souri, to almost black such as is found in many of the 
cypress brakes in southern Louisiana and Florida. It 
is usually reddish yellow and sometimes grayish brown, 
with the sap wood considerably lighter in color than 
the heart wood. The terms white, red, black cypress, 
etc., are localized names given to cypress growing in 
different regions. From the standpoint of the user 
they have little practical significance because there is 
no method known to fully differentiate one from the 
other. The color seems to be an accident of the loca- 
tion in which the tree grows, although it is generally 
true that the darker colored wood is found in what 
are known as tide water swamps, that is. those lo- 

LNIVERfil IV OF II.LI:- M >\ii 


to 0.60, the average may be taken as 0.45 for dry 
wood, equivalent to 28*A lbs. per cubic foot, or 48 
lbs. per cubic foot when green. These figures should 
be taken as broad averages because the trees will vary 
as to weight depending on the rate of growth and the 
region in which they are found. In drying, cypress 
shrinks with considerable uniformity. In rate it stand- 
about between the heavy and light pines. On an aver- 
age it may be stated that the shrinkage from abso- 
lutely green wood to absolutely air dried wood is about 
8 per cent in volume. Its strength like its weight is 
intermediate between heavy and light pine. Tests 
made by the United States Forest Service indicate a 
strength of dry wood (9% moisture; as folio- 
Under static bending the modulus of rup- 
ture 11,300 lbs. 
Modulus of elasticity. . . . .1,540,000 Ibi. 



Compression perpendicular to the grain 910 

Shearing strength parallel to the grain. . 1.080 " 
Cypress wood has practically no odor or taste; nor 
does it impart any odor or taste to materials which 
come in contact therewith. This was very well illus- 
trated when the manufacturers of cypress exhibited 
some barrels made of cypress some years ago in a com- 
petition for a prize given by the National Irrigation 
Congress for the best substitute for oak barrels to be 
used in shipping wine. Among the chief requisites for 
a barrel of this kind was that it should impart no color 
or taste to the liquid contained therein An exhaustive 
series of tests were made with cypress and other woods 
and it was found that of all the woods examined cy- 
press was the only one that did not in any way change 
the liquid contained in the barrels. The prize was 

The very slow growth makes a dense wood and it is 
this particular grade of cypress, that is, the cypress 
growing within 200 miles of salt water, which has the 
decay resistance of the highest degree. 

Ordinarily wood destroying fungi do not decay cy 
press heart wood for many years. This remarkable 
property is made particularly striking under condi- 
tions of high humidity and high temperature such a? 
is frequently found in greenhouses. 

The remarkable decay resistance of cypress heart 
wood is shared by the so-called pecky cypress. To 
most people looking at a plank of pecky cypress with 
its numerous holes, the wood has the appearance of 
being in the last stages of decay. In reality the pecky 
cypress has very remarkable decay resistance qual- 
ities. It is for this reason that pecky cypress has been 


unanimously awarded to cypress. Cypress wood, in 
other words, is chemically inert, which is, of course. 
of very great advantage in the manufacture of all 
kinds of cisterns, tanks and other liquid containers. 
Cypress wood is very easy to work, that is, it is soft 
and has a very even grain and takes a beautiful finish. 
One of the chief qualities of the cypress wood is 
its resistance to decay. In this respect there is prac- 
tically no wood superior to cypress. It has certain 
antiseptic elements in the wood which protect it for 
long periods of time against fungus decay. Instances 
showing the great lasting power of cypress are so nu- 
merous that volumes might be written thereof. At- 
tention is called, however, to the fact that this prop- 
erty of decay resistance is specifically the property of 
the heart wood. In its most marked form this decay 
resistance property is found in the tide water trees. 

used for many years in the manufacture of railroad 
cross-ties, fence posts, sidewalks, planking, etc. Pecky 
cypress cross- ties are found in every railroad in the 
south. Planking of pecky cypress makes one of the 
chief sidewalk materials of the south. It is also used 
for sewer lining where in spite of alternate wet and 
dry conditions it serves perfectly. Where strength 
requirement is not material and lasting power requi- 
site pecky cypress will be found of the greatest serv- 
ice. It has recently been used for interior work be- 
cause of its peculiar appearance. 

Summing up the characteristics of cypress wood 
it may be briefly stated that it is a soft wood with 
even grain, sometimes with beautiful figuring, which 
is easily worked, which shrinks very little, which has 
an average strength, imparts neither odor nor taste to 
materials coming in contact with it, checks and split 



very little, and is noted for the great durability of its 
heart wood. 


Cypress has come to be known more or less as a 
specialized wood and it has very specialized purposes 
and for these it should find its greatest use. Among 
such uses is the manufacture of tanks, and for this 
purpose the grade known as tank stock is employed. 
A serviceable tank requires that the staves be of even 
grained wood and also that the staves be of great den- 
sity and that they maintain their shape and size under 
variable conditions. The tank wood must further- 
more impart no taste or odor to the liquid contained 
therein. The wood should also be as light as possible. 
That cypress wood possesses these various require- 
ments in an unusual degree has already been pointed 
out. Experience has shown that where cypress has 
been used for tanks such as water tanks, tanks for the 
manufacture of soaps, dyes, wines, filtration plant 
tanks, etc., it has lived up to its reputation. It forms 
one of the best materials for the manufacture of silos, 
flumes, irrigating tanks, fire tanks, water troughs, in 
fact, wherever liquids of any sort are used (except those 
having high corrosive effect), it will be found that cy- 
press wood will answer the purpose to an unusual de- 
gree, and this largely because of its permanence of 
form and what may be called chemical inertness. The 
latter is of particular importance where liquids such 

as dyes, weak acids and alkali aFe the materials con- 
tained in the vats of tanks. 

The second field where cypress is particularly 
adaptable is in house construction. This because of 
the long life of the wood when exposed to atmospheric 
conditions. It follows from this that cypress is of par- 
ticular value for outside work, such as siding, porches, 
columns, shingles, foundation timbers, girders, rails 
and outside stairways, etc. 

An old frame building was recently torn down in 
New Orleans, at Canal and North Liberty Streets, 
constructed of cypress something more than a cen- 
tury ago. It was used as a barracks and guardhouse 
by the Spaniards during their occupancy of New 
Orleans. Old buildings of cypress are scattered from 
one end of the south to the other and testify to the re- 
markable weather resistance of this wood. Cypress 
shingles have stood the test of time and when properly 
nailed there is no superior roofing material. 

Cypress has been used extensively for interior work 
such as floorings, mouldings, sash and doors. When 
given the Sugi finish there is no more beautiful wood 
for panel purposes. 

In the construction of greenhouses cypress is a 
most invaluable wood on account of its decay resist- 
ance. Not only are the rafters, roof, and girders con- 
structed of this wood but also the benches. For sim- 



ilar reasons cold frames and other materials used by 
growers may well be constructed of cypress. On the 
farm, fence pickets, posts, water troughs, wells, silos, 
incubators, churns, beehives, barns, sheds and other 
buildings could be constructed of no better wood. 



OF ( \ PR1 SS 

Among the notable uses of cypress in recent years 
has been the manufacture of out of-door furniture. 
Large manufacturers of artistic garden furniture have 
found that cypress is a most advantageous wood to 
use not only on account of its lasting power but due 
to the manner in which it takes the finish necessary to 
withstand out-of-door exposure. Not only is it used 
in the manufacture of garden chairs and tables, but 
for the frames of arbors, trellises and other forms of 
construction used in garden work. 

Pecky cypress as already mentioned, has numerous 
uses, but in addition thereto much of it goes into the 
manufacture of crating, fencing, Byrkit lath, sheath- 
ing, and covering for steam pipes, boxes and veneer core. 

Realizing that the best results from either wood 
can be obtained when the wood is properly manufac- 
tured from the trees of the best location, many manu- 
facturers of cypress have adopted a system of trade 
marking or branding their lumber as a guarantee to 
the consumer that the lumber furnished conforms to 
the best practices, and can be relied upon to give the 
best service. 

In summing up it may be said that taking into 
consideration all the qualities of cypress there is no 
wood, which when intelligently used so as to take ad- 
vantage of its remarkable properties, will give as g(xxi 
a return as will cypress. 


Insist on Genuine "TIDE WATER" Cypress 
Identify it by this Trade Mark 



H-- R«<-USP*'0"< 

Southern Cypress Manufacturers' 


Poydras Building 

Graham Building 


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